Interviewed at a family barbecue at his Sydney home, Mr Abbott's sister, Christine Forster, said he had been ''completely unfazed'' when she told him that she was in a lesbian relationship after 19 years married to a man.
Her partner, Virginia Edwards, said Mr Abbott and his family had been ''fantastic''.
Asked whether he could guarantee he would not invoke his Catholic faith in policymaking, Mr Abbott said, ''Yes I can.''Which is an odd thing to be told because the last time marriage equality was an issue in the Australian Parliament, in September last year, Abbott refused to allow his Liberal Party colleagues to exercise their consciences; they were told to vote along party lines and against the bill. (Prime Minister Gillard allowed Labor MPs a conscience vote but herself sided with the conservatives in the division.) The proposed bill was defeated.
In the UK, conservative prime minister David Cameron has helped to get a bill through Parliament allowing same-sex couples to marry. And now in New Zealand party lines are again being breached as a bill is being shepherded through Parliament to allow same-sex marriage there. The bill was introduced by Labour MP Louisa Wall. Just as there had been in London, there is plenty of debate happening in Wellington, including submissions from the community.
The bill's sponsor, Labour MP Louisa Wall, told Parliament that the discussion of the legislation had highlighted the discrimination felt by gay communities in New Zealand.
"The agony and hardship that so many who bravely made submissions have had to face is unreasonable. But what's totally unacceptable, is the state perpetuating that agony and hardship by not issuing marriage licences to loving, consenting and eligible non-heterosexual couples."